Every word from Carrick's pre-Chelsea press conference
Michael Carrick answered questions from reporters on Friday lunchtime ahead of Manchester United's Sunday afternoon trip to Premier League leaders Chelsea.
The caretaker manager spoke about Jadon Sancho's impressive goalscoring performance in midweek, when United beat Villarreal 2-0 away from home, and on Donny van de Beek's best position.
Carrick also spoke about his excitement at playing against an in-form Chelsea team and discussed the strengths the Blues have shown this season.
Read every word from the interim boss below...
Hello Michael, lots of reports about Ralf Rangnick being appointed as the new interim manager, what can you tell us?
"To be honest, from my point of view, not a lot really. You know, speculation and reports are speculation and reports. As I’m sitting here now, I’m preparing the team for the game, my head’s on the game, I haven’t got any more news to share with you on that front. I’m just looking forward to getting down to London and playing against Chelsea."
I’m sure you’ll be asked more about Ralf Rangnick in a second but let’s talk about the game against Chelsea, it’s a huge game for United, how much of a lift have you seen this week considering the result?
"It was a big boost for us, of course it was, it was a much-needed win for a lot of reason, mainly, first and foremost, for the players to have that feeling again and get that little bit of confidence back, that little bit of belief, which, for sure, we lost. It’s another massive game for us, Tuesday was a huge game, but it’s another massive game. These are the games you’ve got to enjoy, embrace putting yourself in these positions and test yourself against a team that's playing very well, very well. Whatever individuals are on the pitch for them, in recent times, they've looked dangerous, they’ve looked a good team and obviously had some really terrific results. So it'll be a test for us and I'm looking forward to it."
Hi Michael, you’re normally quite a relaxed character, what is it like being manager of a first team, did you sleep on Tuesday night, do you spend all your time going through ideas in your mind?
“You are who you are and that's kind of my personality in some ways. Yeah, of course some decisions are a little bit bigger than others and you've got a little bit more on your plate at other times and that's normal but no, I've been quite calm this week. The staff and the players are supporting me very well and haven't given me an awful lot of problems, if any. I've embraced the challenge. Of course, earlier in the week it was a little bit of a testing time but, once you get over that and get the game underway, and obviously looking forward to this game, business takes over and your mind takes over and the focus takes over on that. That side of it, I've quite enjoyed.”
Just in terms of Rangnick or anybody else for that matter, what kind of impact can people have on a squad in how much space of time? If someone else comes in, they’ve had one manager this season, now they’re having you telling them things, how quickly can you get ideas across?
“You can get ideas across pretty quickly. I think history shows that. Sometimes it's not just the ideas but just a different voice, maybe, or a freshness. History proves that, for whatever reason. Again, looking back at history, sometimes it works really well, sometimes not so well, that's just the nature of life. So we'll see what happens in the days to come.”
Jadon Sancho had one of his best games in a Man United shirt, what more can you get out of him in a short space of time and what sort of player can the fans expect to see?
“He's a terrific player, Jadon. I said it the other night, he's never happier when the ball’s at his feet, he's trying to create things and going at defenders and linking inside with forwards, creating chances and scoring goals. That's when he's purely at his happiest and smiliest, if you like; I've seen that in training and I’ve seen that in games already. The biggest thing for me the other night, and I said it, was the other side of his game and his attitude and his work-rate and his mentality. I thought he put a whole performance together, the other night, and I was really pleased for him because, and we’ve said it before, It's not always easy to just step into this club and perform, especially as a younger player, he's got a massive future ahead of him if keeps doing the right things, looks after himself and has the right attitude. Who's to say how far he can go and hopefully he fulfils every little bit of potential that he has.”
You’ve probably got the best finisher in football if you can get the ball to him so obviously his creation is so important, isn’t it?
“Of course, creation in any team is important and that's obviously why we brought him into the club because of the talent that he has and what he’s proved already at such a young age. There’s so much more to come for him and I'm sure he's looking forward to what's ahead.”
Romelu Lukaku's back for Chelsea, you were a team-mate with him briefly for one season and then a coach the following season, what was he like at the club and what did you make of it when he did leave the club?
“That feels like a long time ago already, when Rom was here and left. He's gone to Italy and done very well and had a good start at Chelsea. I know he’s been unfortunate with picking up the injury but came back the other night and was involved. It'll be good to see Rom again. He's obviously a terrific footballer, Rom, he's scored goals pretty much wherever he's been, so it’s pretty obvious what he brings and how dangerous he could be. If Rom plays, we're well aware of what he brings and we'll be ready for him.”
Hi Michael, given the names, and in particular one that’s been linked with the interim job, there’s been a lot of talk about how your players might adapt to a high-pressing style of play, that’s speculation from the outside but as someone who’s worked with the players from the inside for a number of years, how do you think they might adapt to that style?
“Listen, there's a lot of different styles in football and there's a good group of players here so whoever comes in with whatever style he’s implementing, I'm sure we can adapt. There's some real talent, some real good people, good human beings in the squad and I'm sure they'll look forward to what's ahead.”
Hi Michael, I appreciate it’s a fluid situation at the moment but is the plan for the rest of the season for you, [Kieran] McKenna and [Mike] Phelan to be involved with the new interim coach?
“I think as you can appreciate this week has been quite busy already and again, as I said before, really I haven't had time to think, I haven’t given it much thought. My pure focus is on preparing the team as best as I can; it's a huge responsibility that I have personally at the moment, to do that, and I've given everything I can for that. Anything after Sunday is not in my thoughts at the moment.”
Any team news updates on Shaw and the situation of your players?
“Yeah, we got two or three different little issues that we’re waiting to see how the boys come through. Of course it's never ideal, you want a full squad to pick from, a full quota of players. There is one or two that we're kind of waiting on. Luke took a bang on the head, obviously, he was concussed 2-3 weeks ago and took a bang against Watford, so we're assessing him during the week and we'll make a call on how he is. Fred took a knock the other night and he twisted his ankle. He managed to carry on, which is pretty incredible, to be honest, and see the game out and ended up playing a big part in winning the game for us. We'll have to see how that settles down. There’s one or two others as well but we'll be strong tomorrow, travelling down with the squad that we have, whoever it is, and look forward to the game.”
Hi Michael, you were obviously a very, very good midfielder, Donny van de Beek, you picked him the other day, where's his best position? It has been a little bit of a puzzle as to why he couldn’t get in the team.
“I think Donny's one of those players where because he's so flexible, he can play different positions. He's done the same for Ajax before he came here, so I think he’s used to that, and he’s done that for Holland as well. Variety can be a real strength. We've got ideas where we think Donny is most suited but, as I said, actually he's so flexible and so adaptable that the two or three positions in and around midfield, he even played, you could argue, a false 9 for Ajax at times in the Champions League where they ended up getting beat by Tottenham. So, yeah, of course we've got ideas for it but being so flexible is a real strength and a credit to what he can be for the team.”
13 unbeaten in LondonCollection
United haven't lost a league game in the capital for almost two years...
There’s talk about a new manager coming in, but I was wondering, how good of a starting point will the foundation that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has built be, and how did it help you?
“I think that's one of the biggest things in Ole's time as manager here, over time, creating and building on the environment and the backroom staff, the culture within the group that people don't see day to day. It's not obvious to the eye but I think you could see that over time, as a team, we were improving, we had a good finish last season, and once results started going, it went pretty quickly in terms of losing games which is a shame because everything else can kind of get overshadowed by losses like that. But it's still there and the culture’s still there. And, this week, the backroom staff and the environment that Ole had such a huge part in building has helped me an awful lot this week so, whatever happens next, it's there for sure and it’s a great starting point.”
Hi Michael, I just wondered how much you’re being kept in the loop on the manager hunt, and it sounds like it's going to be an experienced European manager. How good is that for you in terms of learning off them, but also for your abilities in terms of what you've already brought at Carrington, knowing the players, how you can help them as well?
“Yeah, for me, to be sitting here talking about too far ahead, really my thoughts are about the game on Sunday. It has to be, to be honest. Coming in this week and having a real laser focus on two games and the challenge that faces not just me, but us as a group. I can't get distracted by anything else, for now, for this week for sure, anything else will take care of itself in the coming days and weeks ahead.”
Jadon Sancho had his best game in midweek, is it something you said to him about being more positive or is just about time and settling in?
“Yeah, you know yourself as a player, sometimes it takes a little bit of time to adapt. He's a younger boy - I say boy, he's not a young boy but a younger player - coming to such a big club, a new league. It's not easy to hit the ground running and we were well aware of that. Of course, we believe in him. As I’ve said before, the potential he's got is massive, if he keeps doing the right things and keeps himself on the right track, then he's got a great chance. I'm not surprised by what he did the other night; I've seen it in training in recent weeks, I’ve seen that spring in his step coming back, you can see in the body language, in his personality, there's a little spark there and hopefully that spark keeps getting bigger and he keeps improving.”
What do you think about Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea and their strengths?
“You've got to be hugely impressed by the way they go about things. Obviously, I've watched quite a bit of them. Super intense, well-organised, really good movement across our back line, their front line and very good at connecting with the midfield, with the back three building out and connecting in midfield. The wing-backs are really aggressive and test your backline and stretch you across the pitch. They've got a really good balance going at the moment, confidence is high and you can see that. They’ve had some really terrific results and so they’re on a high and I'm well aware of the challenges we face but, you know, as I said before, I'm looking forward to it because it's a big test and a big challenge but we feel we can go there and get a good result, no doubt. We have to believe that.”